Australia’s Pacific Engagement Visa: Still Plenty of Detail to be Worked Out

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A new visa for Australia is to be introduced in July 2023 providing 3,000 places for eligible migrants from Pacific countries and Timor-Leste.

The Pacific Engagement Visa (PEV) was announced in October 2022, as part of Australia’s Federal Budget, “to boost Pacific permanent migration to Australia and build a stronger Pacific family”.

The 3,000 visas will be allocated on an annual basis and selected by a ballot process. Those selected from the ballot will be invited to apply for permanent residence.

Applications for the ballot are to be lodged online with Australia’s Department of Home Affairs from July 2023, however, a lot more information is yet to be released before Pacific Island applicants can get too excited.

How will the 3,000 be allocated between PICs and Timor-Leste?

The full details have not yet been released, however, Australia’s Minister for the Pacific Pat Conroy has already announced that visas will be allocated on a pro rata basis.

This means bigger countries would have a higher percentage of the 3k quota to be allocated to all PI countries including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands – all with much larger populations than Samoa.

Steven Howes of the DevPolicy observes “there is still plenty of detail yet to be worked out.”

“The Australian government needs to be strategic and, therefore, selective in how it distributes these highly valuable visas”.

Requirements

According to the announcement, “Applicants will need to secure a written employment agreement in Australia and meet other migration requirements to be eligible for the visa”.

The “other migration requirements” are to be announced prior to the process application launch in July 2023.

“Applicants may include their partner and legally dependent children, as part of the total annual visa allocation”.

This means the 3,000 visas includes spouses and families of included in an applicant’s form. When the ballot is drawn, this does not mean 3,000 applications or numbers will be drawn.

“The PEV will grow Australia’s Pacific and Timor-Leste diaspora and encourage greater cultural, business, and educational exchange,” reads the statement from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs.

The announcement assures the PEV is being designed in close consultations with partner governments and Pacific communities “to ensure the program meets the needs and priorities of a peaceful, prosperous, and resilient Pacific family”.

More information will be available on the Department of Home Affairs website prior to the commencement of the visa.